As a child back in the 50’s – before videotapes, DVDs or YouTube – we listened to movie soundtrack records for entertainment. Remember the movie South Pacific? How about the song, ‘You have to be taught?’ That song influenced me tremendously. The gist of the song: you have to be taught to be prejudiced, whether it was against a person’s race, religion, financial status, job occupation, level of education, body type, whatever.
A child is not born with bias or prejudice – it’s taught. But by whom? Or what? It’s not just friends and family but also TV, movies, commercials, ads, and even toys. You may not have noticed, but Mattel just expanded their line of Barbie dolls to include ‘real’ body shapes and ethnicities.
That gesture is over sixty years late, but a step in the right direction. Believe it or not, I grew up thinking that a woman wasn’t beautiful unless she was a blonde or redhead and had an hourglass figure, was supposed to be married in her early twenties with a big wedding, have a child by the time she was twenty-five, and a lot of other nonsense. My mother didn’t teach me that: movies, TV, and advertisements did. Unfortunately, they portray a LOT of incorrect stereotypes as ‘normal’ or ‘average.’
What I did learn from Mom was that we may look different on the outside, wear different types of clothes, but we all had the same basic needs: food, water, shelter, friendship. And that a hand up was better than a slap down (we weren’t beat or even grounded). Timeless wisdom!
I guess that ‘helping others’ attitude spills over in my writing. A prime example is The Great Big Fairy. The hero (a tall red-headed man) goes back in time, rescues a black female slave strictly out of compassion, and winds up falling in love with her. Because of the laws in 1782 North Carolina, he can’t marry her. Rather than be her master and ‘have his way with her,’ he brings her to the present day and they wed.
If you’re looking for a feel-good romance where the good guys (and gal) win, check this out. There are eleven stories in The Fairies Saga series so far, but you shouldn’t get lost if you start with The Great Big Fairy, first published in 2011.
Full disclosure: I was in high school before I ever knew anyone of African American heritage. Why? Location. I grew up in Mesa and Scottsdale, Arizona. I did have loads of friends who had black hair and skin darker than mine, though. What did we call them? Neighbors.